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Fanfiction: In the Moonlight - Part I

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Summary:
Sam and Jack meet under the moonlight each year they serve together, but will they ever find happiness?
Rating: PG-13
Author's Notes: Sam/Jack. Romance. Spoilers for SG1.
Awards: 2008 Stargate Fan Award Nominee
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Written for entertainment purposes only

 

In the Moonlight

Year One


There was nothing like the sound of the night; the quiet and the hush of the darkness that permeated the air. The way the silence was underscored by nature; the quiet ripples of water, the rustle of shivering leaves in the trees; the flurry of a passing creature through the grass.

Jack O’Neill watched the dark with a solemn intensity from his position just outside the camp the team had made earlier. The log wasn’t comfortable but it was better than the ground and its position by an old weathered tree allowed him to fade into the scenery. He tugged his cap down further over his brown hair and let his gaze travel over the clearing with a practiced eye.

There was no sign of trouble.

Nothing stirred.

He shifted imperceptibly trying to ease the ache that had settled into his left buttock and checked the time. The figures glowed luminously up at him. Another couple of hours and his watch would be over. He looked towards where Captain Samantha Carter slept. There was only the hunched lump of a sleeping bag visible next to another he knew belonged to Daniel Jackson. Teal’c was in a meditative state by their side. Sam would relieve him and she would be a few minutes early, she always was. He almost smiled.

The young blonde Air Force Captain had proven to be an asset to the team; brilliant in a way only a super-genius could be, a good soldier, a compassionate friend and one helluva sexy woman…he cut the thought off abruptly.

He had no right going down that road, Jack reminded himself briskly. He was her commanding officer. It wasn’t as though he hadn’t always been aware of the fact that Carter was an attractive woman. Heck, he’d noticed the moment she’d walked into the briefing room; the blue dress uniform actually enhanced everything about her instead of cloaking her in anonymity. There had been a multitude of moments since then that had driven it home to him; a certain Mongolian dress, her lips on his when she had been under the influence of an alien virus, the way his belly had tightened when she had examined him after the sarcophagus had eliminated Hathor’s handiwork, the feel of her body snuggled up to him in a cave of ice. The last was the moment that lingered in his memory; it was the most recent.

It was probably also the reason why he had found himself thinking about Carter more than he should. They had been stuck together alone for so long while they had tried to dig out the DHD, to find a way home little realising that they were already on Earth. It was an experience that had bonded them. Carter had been incredible; she had tirelessly worked to get them home; patched him up and kept him alive even though she had been scared. He couldn’t help but admire her for that. And how was he supposed to ignore how hot she was when she snuggled up to him even if it was to keep them both warm and alive? Even the BDUs couldn’t disguise her trim figure; the womanly curves, the legs that went on forever.

Jack swore under his breath and got to his feet. He should do a perimeter check, he thought determinedly pushing his less than regulation thoughts about Carter out of his mind. He silently made his way through the trees, checking for any signs that someone was creeping up on them; spying on them. He moved stealthily, ensuring his clothes didn’t catch on branches; that his feet didn’t snap any twigs. His training allowed him to make the circuit without disturbing a single thing. The log beckoned and he stopped as he realised Carter sat there waiting.

He didn’t mask his approach and the sound of his boots walking over the mossy forest floor had her turning toward him. He sat down beside her, careful to keep an appropriate distance between them. He checked his watch.

‘You’re early.’ Jack noted in a low voice.

Sam shrugged easily and pointed up at the sky. ‘Isn’t it incredible?’

Jack looked up. The purple was dotted with bright pinpricks of stars in constellations that differed wildly from Earth. No Big Dipper or Orion’s Belt. The stars were spread out in an altogether different pattern that stirred the astronomer in Jack. The stars were not the main attraction though as unusual as they were. The planet had two moons and they loomed closely in the sky; the first an orangey-red that shimmered and the second, a white circle. They were definitely not in Kansas anymore.

He glanced toward Carter. She was staring up at the moons captivated and the moonlight streamed down on her as though in recognition of her adoration, turning her messy blonde hair to a rumpled gold, her pale skin to a luminous cream and her eyes, a fathomless deep blue. For a moment, he forgot to breathe.

Sam turned suddenly to smile at him ruefully. ‘Sorry, sir.’

‘Don’t apologise, Captain.’ Jack waved her words away. He picked out a cluster of stars in the left of the night sky. ‘Those kind of remind me of a small dog.’

‘Really?’ Sam peered into the distance. ‘It looks more like a bear.’

‘A bear?’ He shook his head. ‘No way. See the two on the right are the paws, and those two at the top are ears and…’ he stopped as he realised she was smiling at him indulgently. He pulled a face at her obvious amusement.

‘Really, sir.’ Sam said teasingly. ‘Go on. I’m beginning to see the dog.’

‘Funny, Carter.’ Jack muttered, poking her arm gently. ‘Very funny.’

She kept on smiling and he found his own lips curving upwards in response. She’d been so formal with him when they had first started working together that he would never have imagined she would have loosened up enough to tease him. He was pleased that she felt she could. They fell into a companionable silence.

Jack refused to over-think it; refused to examine why it mattered to him more closely. He simply enjoyed the moment and how right it felt, sitting under the stars in the moonlight with Carter at his side.
 

Year Two

 

The campfire crackled and jumped in the slight breeze. Sam’s eyes were pinned to the flickering flames. She pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around her legs, ensuring the long skirt she wore covered her. She shivered a little despite the fire.

She should probably get some sleep, Sam mused tiredly. They had a long journey ahead of them. Her blue eyes shifted to the van where the young couple who had offered them a ride were sleeping. They’d had to lie to them earlier to protect the timeline and although Sam knew it was necessary, she hated that they had spun them a tale. Aliens trying to get back home. She snorted softly. Well, at least the trying to get home part of it was true. SG1 couldn’t stay in 1969 for any longer than they had to or they risked changing time.

The fire flared again; a shower of sparks spluttering out and hitting the dirt. What if she was wrong about the solar flares, Sam mused. What if General Hammond had an altogether different plan in mind to get them back to the future? What if she screwed up?

She rubbed her nose thoughtfully. It had been a difficult year and her confidence had taken a knock. She rolled her eyes. A difficult year; she guessed that was one way to describe being taken as a host to an unsympathetic Tok’ra symbiote and having to deal with the consequences of that. Her body had changed; the chemistry of it, the feel of it. She could sense Teal’c a few feet away because of what had happened; the naquadah in her blood reacting to the Goa’uld he carried as a Jaffa. Her mind was sometimes filled with memories that weren’t her own; faces of strangers. The only good thing to come out of it all was that it had provided a way for her father to beat his cancer. He had become a willing host; a liaison between Earth and the Tok’ra. At least that was one thing that had gone right even if the Colonel remained sceptical about their new ally.

Sam couldn’t blame him. She was just lucky Colonel O’Neill still trusted her after what had happened with Jolinar. He could have insisted on her being replaced but he hadn’t; he had stood by her and helped her come to terms with what had happened. She knew his trust and confidence in her had helped her rebuild her own. He had even allowed her to try something that had almost killed him. Her mind slid back to the moment months before when the Colonel had been pinned to a wall by a metal sphere they had brought back. Her plan had worked; Earth and the Colonel had been saved but for a few awful minutes she had believed she had killed him, that he was dead.

As though her thoughts had conjured him up, the Colonel suddenly appeared beside her. He was dressed in the uniform of a rebel; blue jeans, white t-shirt, leather jacket. With his greying hair, square jaw and deep chocolate eyes, he looked every inch the alpha male; dangerous; sexy; hot.

So not going there, Sam thought desperately as she averted her eyes hurriedly. He was her CO. She was not developing a crush; she was not. She pulled a face. Maybe if she kept chanting it over and over it would eventually become true.

‘You know you’re thinking so hard I can hear you.’ Jack said dryly as he sat down. His voice was low and she knew he was trying not to disturb the others.

‘Sorry, sir.’ Sam said automatically, inwardly cringing. She hoped to hell that he couldn’t hear her thoughts because that would be seriously mortifying.

‘You want to tell me what’s wrong?’ Jack asked, nudging her with his knee as he warmed his hands on the fire.

‘I was just hoping our plan will work, sir.’ Sam replied. ‘If I’m wrong…’

‘Well, we’ll find out soon enough.’ Jack reassured her.

‘And if I am?’ Sam worried out loud. ‘I can’t help thinking that if I am we’ll be stuck here forever.’

The Colonel looked at her evenly. ‘This wasn’t your fault.’

‘I made the calculations…’ she began to protest.

‘And Hammond made the call even though he knew we’d end up on this jaunt to the past.’ Jack pointed out.

‘But…’

‘Ah!’ He held up a finger to forestall her argument. ‘We’ll get home, Carter.’

Sam nodded reluctantly.

Jack leaned back and she couldn’t help noticing the way his t-shirt tightened over his broad chest. She diverted her gaze, staring resolutely up at the night sky and the moon.

‘Where were you, sir?’ Sam asked softly.

‘Hmmm?’ Jack looked back at her bemused.

‘The night of the lunar landing?’ Sam expanded. ‘You told General Hammond where he was but I was wondering where you were?’

‘At a neighbour’s house.’ Jack explained. ‘They had the best TV.’

Sam smiled. ‘I wish I could have been there.’ Her eyes widened as she realised how her comment could be interpreted. ‘I mean, watching it myself for real as it happened.’

‘Well, if you’re right about this whole time travel thing maybe you’ll be able to work out a way to get back and watch it some day.’ Jack said.

She didn’t argue. Even if she could work out how to time travel through the wormhole it was too dangerous; who knew what damage they could do to the timeline?

‘You know it’s weird.’ Jack commented, gesturing up at the sky.

‘Sir?’ Sam asked confused.

‘Being on Earth and star watching.’ Jack explained. ‘This time last year we were on that planet with the two moons; remember?’

‘I remember.’ Sam smiled. She pointed up at a small cluster of stars; so dim and distant that they could barely make them out. ‘That’s your dog.’

Jack stared at the sky. ‘No.’ He looked at her; his chocolate eyes warm on hers. ‘Really?’

Sam nodded happily at the childlike glee that suffused his face.

‘You know from Earth,’ Jack said conversationally, ‘it really does look like a dog.’

They smiled at each other, remembering their previous banter. Sam looked away and up at the sky. Oh, she was in so much trouble; resisting him when he was in brusque Colonel mode was one thing but when he was being sweet and funny and adorable. Sam sighed. She really had no chance at all.

 

Year Three
 

Jack plucked some unknown object out of his mug and flicked it away. He stole a glance toward camp where the others were sleeping. They hadn’t quite forgiven him for his subterfuge over the rogue group; accepted him back as their team leader, yes; forgiven him as their friend, no.

He couldn’t blame them.

He had been brutal when he had pushed them away in order to protect his cover and to protect them. He still smarted in shame over how he had treated Daniel when he had visited him at his home. No matter how many times he replayed the scene in his head, he couldn’t see another way to have pushed his friend away. Well, he’d pushed him and Daniel was keeping him at arm’s length because of that. He wasn’t the only one.

Jack looked into the depths of the liquid. Carter had barely spoken to him since the whole rogue thing. Actually thinking about it, she had barely spoken to him since the whole Edora thing. His gut churned.

Getting stranded on another planet had been a crazy experience. He had thought he was never getting home; hadn’t been certain if his team had made it or not. He hadn’t considered that Carter would rewrite physics to make his return possible. He had missed his team; Teal’c’s dry wisdom; Daniel’s enthusiastic geekiness and Sam. He’d missed everything about Sam. He had missed her enough to go looking for comfort in another woman’s arms.

He felt the sliver of guilt slide into his gut again. Laira had been a good woman and she had deserved better than being treated like a replacement or a one night stand. Yet in the end she had been both. He could feel his skin heating with embarrassment at the memory of their first and last night together; the blatant matchmaking by the rest of the Edorans, the empty house, her invitation…had he really agreed to make a baby with her? How strong had that moonshine been anyway?

The thought of moonshine had him staring up at the night sky. The planet they were visiting was had three small moons. They could barely be seen from the ground but Jack knew they were there. He wondered if Sam would ever forgive him enough to sit with him and watch the night sky again.

Jack frowned. The Edoran fire-rain experience had started out as the two of them planning to watch together but then Laira had overheard them and offered to show them a good spot and Jack had felt compelled to invite the rest of the team. He wished he had turned down Laira; wished it had remained him and Carter just watching the meteors together. He wished a lot of things.

He wished he hadn’t pushed her away when he’d had to pretend that she didn’t matter to him. She had been so concerned for him and so confused at his behaviour.

I haven’t been acting like myself since I met you. Now I am acting like myself.’

His words came back to him and he swallowed the bitter coffee trying to eradicate the equally bitter taste in his mouth. The strange thing was that it was the truth. He hadn’t been acting like himself since he had met Carter. She had been so passionate about doing the right thing; about fighting for justice and freedom; so honourable about how she acted. There was something about her that made him want to be a better man than he was; to leave behind the lies and deceit, and the lack of conscience that had dictated his life in special ops. He wanted to become the hero he could see she believed him to be.

Returning to his special ops existence; the paranoia, the lies; that had been returning to the man he had been before Carter; before Daniel and SG1. When Hammond had assigned him to the rogue job, Jack had protested. Strongly. Forcefully. He needed his team; his team needed him. The assignment could tear SG1 apart, he’d said…

You’re stronger than you think, Jack.’ Hammond had replied.

But a couple of weeks after it had all gone down and a side trip to Bedrosia later, Jack didn’t think they were as strong as Hammond believed. They hadn’t forgiven him.

Jack felt the bite of the cold through this jacket and he instinctively moved closer to the fire. When he’d come back from Edora and learned about everything Carter had done to get him home, he had been stunned. She had literally rewritten the human knowledge of particle physics to build the particle beam generator that had melted the barrier over the Edoran Stargate. It had made him wonder; had she worked so hard just because he was a friend, a team-mate or had there been something else? Had she loved him just a little?

He tossed the rest of the coffee away and picked up his gun. Whatever Sam might have felt he had destroyed with his undercover op; he needed to forget about it. He needed to set it aside and do a patrol. He moved through the forest silently, checking for enemies, anything that could potentially harm his team; he found nothing but he stayed away from the camp for as long as he could.

It was almost the end of his watch when he made his way back. He slowed as he caught sight of Carter. She was refilling a mug with coffee; sitting on the rock he had abandoned. He made his way over to her cautiously. He sat down and took the mug she offered with a nod of acknowledgement. He wrapped his hands around it and noted how she hadn’t moved away although he had sat right beside her; too close really given their military ranks and relationship. The warmth seeped through the wool of his fingerless gloves. He took a sip.

‘Thanks.’ Jack murmured gently. ‘It’s been cold.’

Sam nodded. She took a sip from the mug that she held.

Jack had no clue what to say to her; how he bridged the chasm that had opened up between them. He kept silent; content to sit beside her.

‘There’s a fourth moon.’ Sam said suddenly. ‘It’s hiding behind the third one.’

‘Where?’ Jack asked curious.

She pointed up at the indigo hue that passed as dark on the planet. ‘There.’

‘You’re right.’ He wasn’t surprised; she usually was.

‘I was thinking about it earlier.’ Sam admitted. Her grip tightened on her mug. ‘I couldn’t understand.’

‘Understand what?’ Jack asked, wondering if he was going to regret hearing the answer.

‘How the other three could exist without a fourth.’ Sam said quietly. ‘Their alignment and orbit suggested there had to be a fourth.’ She looked down. ‘Otherwise they would have fallen into the atmosphere and been destroyed a long time ago.’

Jack looked at her; the way her hair curled around her face, the blue eyes so cautiously guarded. ‘I think all four moons need each other.’

He surprised her into looking at him. He gestured up at the fourth moon. ‘All four of them are in balance. That’s what’s important.’

‘You think so, sir?’ Sam asked.

He held her gaze. ‘I know so.’

Sam looked away.

Jack cleared his throat. ‘You know I tried to find the constellation, the one that looks like a dog, when I was on Edora but I couldn’t find it.’ It had been one of the things that had bothered him; he had been so far from home that none of the constellations had been familiar.

‘Edora’s on the other side of the galaxy, sir.’ Sam replied automatically. ‘It’s unlikely you would have seen it.’

‘Ah.’ Jack sighed.

She stretched out her finger to the right. ‘There.’

Jack immediately made out the dim shape of the dog; trust Carter to pick it out of the sky.

‘I still think it looks more like a bear.’ Sam remarked.

Jack shot her a look.

There was a hint of a smirk playing around her lips. He warmed under it and felt the ache in his gut ease. He was forgiven. He sipped his coffee and leaned back subtly. His arm brushed hers but Sam didn’t move away; she settled against him instead.

Now, Jack thought as they stared up at the sky, now he was truly home.

 

Year Four
 

Sam turned over in the sleeping bag restlessly. The faint warm breeze washed over her and she scented the flowers that grew nearby. They had chosen to leave the tents down; the desert planet they were visiting was pleasant; no storms threatened. It was a perfect night for sleeping under the stars. In the moonlight, Sam caught sight of the faint mark on her palm from the burn she had received the week before. An unpleasant reminder that she had been taken over by an alien entity again; threatened the base again. She shuddered and buried her head in the jacket she had wadded up as a pillow.

She could only remember the barest details of what had happened after the entity had taken her over. Most of her memories were blurred, fuzzy. Flashes of being in the infirmary and Jack looking down at her with so much concern and fear in his eyes; with so much hate when he figured out it wasn’t her. There was a flash of standing in the corridor with him pointing a zat at her; the sensation of being adrift, trying to speak and no-one hearing and finally, back in her own body and looking up Jack. It had been harder on him than her; he’d had to shoot her, had thought he’d killed her; that he’d lost her.

I’d rather die myself than lose Carter.’

His heartfelt words during their za’tarc confessions came back to Sam. Of stating out loud that despite their ranks and the military relationship, that the impossible had happened and he loved her back. Sam closed her eyes tightly. She had already known; she had known it when he had looked back at her through a force-shield on Apophis’s new ship and wouldn’t leave her. He had loved her enough to die for her. It had scared her as much as it thrilled her and she had run from it; asked them both to bury the truth in the room where they had made their confessions.

But the fact was it kept bubbling over; rising to the surface. They had loved each other even when their memories had been altered and they hadn’t been themselves; their love and care for one another had been the only truth that had survived. In some ways, she was content with that; with knowing that they loved each other even though they couldn’t be together as a couple.

But this last incident…Jack had withdrawn from her and she couldn’t blame him. The regulations were there for a reason; to protect people from the possibility of having to kill a loved one; to choose between someone they loved and the fate of Earth. No-one should have to go through that. Sam had done it with Martouf. She had pulled the trigger and killed him; he had been her friend and she had cared for him, still felt the underlying tug of a deeper love Jolinar had shared with the Tok’ra agent. So Sam knew how Jack was feeling; could put herself in his place, and she honestly didn’t know whether she would have had the strength to pull the trigger and kill Jack to save Earth.

He had barely spoken to her in the aftermath; had checked in with her to make sure she was healing, had briefed her on the mission but he hadn’t flirted with her since; hadn’t teased her or bantered with her. It was as though Jack had decided he couldn’t love her anymore; that he had flipped some switch internally to stop, and that hurt.

She shifted again, turning to lie on her back. She looked up at the endless black sky. There was hardly a star in the sky. The planet was in a remote area of the galaxy; its moon was the only other astrological body in the bi-solar system. It was more distant than Earth’s moon yet the effect was to produce a gravity very similar to Earth’s. Usually Sam could feel the minor differences when they were off-world but not this time.

Sam stared up at the moon. The constellation she and Jack usually searched for was missing. Intellectually she knew it just couldn’t be seen from the planet they were on, that it was still out there in the galaxy, that she could look when she was back on Earth and she would find it. But its missing presence right there and then seemed to underscore the hopelessness of her love for Jack. The constellation was missing and Jack had made it clear in his own imitable style that he was moving on. She needed to do the same – she just had no idea how.

Her feelings for Jack had shifted over the past couple of years. It might have started out as a crush, a case of hero worship for him but it had deepened into something real. She knew instinctively that she wouldn’t love anyone else quite as deeply or as completely. He made her whole. It was as though as long as she had him, she could do anything. She needed him; loved him; couldn’t have him.

And he had felt the same way. She knew it like she knew her own name. She had felt it in every look, every touch. It wasn’t a passing fancy for him; he didn’t just look at her as though she as an attractive woman but as though she was everything to him, as though she was his Sun and moon. He hadn’t looked at her like that since she had woken up in the MALP room.

He had made his feelings clear, Sam thought. Even if she resigned or asked for transfer, would he want her? The thought struck her like a blow to her gut and her eyes closed tightly against the pain. She wished she knew how to stop loving him as quickly as he had evidently seemed to stop loving her. She shoved the sleeping bag off abruptly and stood up. She made a gesture to Teal’c who had the watch to indicate that she was taking a bathroom break. The Jaffa nodded solemnly in reply. Sam walked swiftly around the ruins but instead of heading for the bushes she sat down on a fallen pillar and breathed in deeply.

The blossoms nearby were filled with a heady perfume and Sam raised her face up to the sky allowing the scent to fill her senses. She felt her body relax as she controlled her breathing. Everything seemed to be in sharp focus. The perfume was all she could smell and taste; her sight was filled with the sandy stones of the ruined temple, the deep green bushes and their orange and blue flowers. Her fingers gripped the rough stone she sat on and her skin warmed with the breeze. Her ears picked up the sounds of the bushes rustling, footsteps approaching. Her eyes snapped to the side.

Jack paused before he continued on and sat beside her. ‘You’ve been gone awhile.’

Sam knew she should say something, get up and leave but she couldn’t move. He was filling her senses like he always did. He looked tired; the lines that marked his face seemed deeper in the darkness and there were shadows under his eyes.

‘Teal’c was worried. You know how he gets.’ Jack scuffed his heels on the sandy ground and darted a glance at her. ‘You OK?’

‘I’m fine.’ Sam bit her lip and wondered if he’d call her on the blatant lie.

‘Your hand bothering you?’

She looked down and realised that she was rubbing her scarred hand with her good one. She halted the movement abruptly.

Jack cleared his throat gruffly. ‘We should head back before Teal’c sends a search party.’

Sam nodded.

He stood up and offered her his hand. She slid her hand into his, and he pulled her to her feet. He kept hold of her hand as she went to pull away and she stilled, her breath caught in her throat as he examined the thin scar and the way it glimmered in the moonlight.

‘That was a bad burn.’ Jack said so quietly she wondered if she had heard him.

‘It’s OK.’ Sam murmured, trying to comfort him.

‘Right.’ His thumb traced over her palm.

Sam felt her heart clench. ‘Sir.’

Jack looked at her suddenly, capturing her eyes with his. For a moment, they didn’t need words. Everything they felt gleamed from their eyes; love, regret, sorrow, heartbreak…it was over.

Sam blinked back tears.

Jack let go of her.

Sam watched him walk away. She brushed the tears from her cheeks swiftly and followed him.

Continued in Part II

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